Monday, January 9, 2012


There's a post title for Google to have fun with.

In any event, I planned to blog this morning, but I didn't really have a topic in mind. Usually, I sit down with a fair idea of what I'm going to write about, but not this morning.

I sat here sipping my coffee, willing the old neurons to start firing, but feeling that I just really didn't have anything to say. Just then, a wisp of a memory from childhood came floating to the surface. Something about not having anything to say. And then it hit me:


[Truth in advertising: I did not spell that on my own. Copy / Paste to the rescue.]

This is the word made famous by Mary Poppins, of course. To my deep shame, I have never read the novels, and so I must defer to the marvelous 1964 film as my sole source of canonical Poppins. In the film, young Jane Banks, speaking to her father, defines supercalifragilisticexpialidocious thusly: "It's something to say when you don't know what to say."

Musical interlude!

As Mary and Bert explain to us in song, you don't always have to know exactly what to say. Simply breaking the ice is often enough to get the words flowing, and next thing you know, you find yourself complimented with Edwardian kudos like, "There goes a clever gent!"

Relating this to writing, getting started is often the hardest part for me. Not just the beginning of a novel, but every writing session, every single day. I sit to write and spend several minutes just staring at the screen, with all the words trapped behind a dam of uncertainty. The best remedy for this is just to write. Anything. Even if it has nothing to do with my story. If I get the words going, my brain tends to wake up and move in the direction I want.

I've found the concept of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious works in a variety of situations besides conversation and writing: cleaning the house, planning a trip, getting on track with diet and exercise... Often, a task we wish to undertake feels overwhelming. We can't see how we'll ever get over the hill to the desired result on the other side. Just starting--somehow, anyhow--is often enough to help us overcome our fears and achieve our goals.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Give it a try.


  1. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

    When I started writing software requirements for a new project 6 yrs ago, I asked a senior analyst: "How do you start?" And she said, "I start with a blank page." Well SNAP. But it's true. Painful and yet that's where the magic happens (or you know--not :D).

  2. I'm not sure which is worse, starting with a blank page or starting with a poorly written page. :D

    I have been finding some success with supercalifragilisticexpialadocious. <-- tried to spell it myself. Now putting it in those terms will make it that much more fun.